C. F. Martin 000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1953)

C. F. Martin  000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1953)
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Item # 9476
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C. F. Martin 000-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1953), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 131798, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

To many players and Martin fans, the 000-18 has always been one of the company's most propitious and beloved combinations of wood, wire, and inspiration. The light mahogany body coupled with a spruce top makes for a transparent but warm and responsive guitar; the 15" wide narrow-waisted 000-size body contributes both depth and clarity to the sound. The 14-fret 000-sized instrument was introduced as the OM-18 in 1930. After 1933 nearly all Martin guitars were built in this new "Orchestra Model" format, so the OM designation was dropped and the model simply called the 000-18, one of the company's mainstays ever since.

While not a particularly expensive guitar by 1950s Martin standards, listing at $105.00 (plus case) in 1953 the 000-18 still represented a substantial investment to many players. This is not a flashy guitar; the trim is discreet with tortoise celluloid on the body edges and a simple multiply sound hole ring. In classic Martin style, the elegant understatement speaks for itself. Despite its lack of flash, this was always a fully professional instrument popular with radio entertainers, most obviously the country acts common in the Southeast.

This example was built around the middle of 1953, one of a total of 527 000-18s shipped that year. It incorporates typical post-war Martin style 18 features including lovely mahogany on the back and sides, a superb straight-grained spruce top, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and tortoise celluloid pickguard and body binding. The neck is mahogany with a fairly slim "C" profile; the fingerboard inlay is mixed size dots and the tuners are openback individual large-plate Klusons with metal buttons. This 000 has seen its share of use but is in excellent-playing condition and sounds lovely. It is an excellent fingerpicker's instrument but also has a lot of punch and clarity as a straight rhythm machine as well.
Overall length is 39 7/8 in. (101.3 cm.), 15 1/16 in. (38.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/16 in. (10.3 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This 000 shows signs of use over the last nearly 70 years but remains an excellent player. There is some typical wear to the finish overall, for once more heavily on the sides and edges than the top. The top does have a deep pickwear spot into the wood just off the back edge of the pickguard; somebody picked close to the bridge a LOT! There is also some wear through the finish adjacent to this further from the bridge. There is a small touched-up spot of finish forward of the bridge above the low E string. Apart from these the top finish is relatively clean, and the top has no cracks at all.

The back shows two mahogany grain cracks off the bottom edge that neatly parallel each other, sealed with some touch up applied. There are several small side cracks at the turn of the lower bout, all solidly sealed but visible. The turn of the upper bass bout shows some moisture wear but nothing tragic. For some reason there is a lot more wear than usual around the back/side edges, and a deep wear spot to the lower side on the turn of the upper treble bout from rubbing the brads inside the old chipboard case. There is a decent amount of finish smoothly worn down on the back of the neck in the lower positions.

The original bridge does not appear to have ever lifted or been reglued, it may have been cut down a bit from the top long ago but retains good height. The guitar has had a recent neck set and vintage-correct refret; the fingerboard was trued but still shows the traces of a couple of divots in the first position. This 000 is an excellent player with a big punchy sound, ready to play well into the 21st century. The original chipboard case is long gone but the guitar is currently residing in a new hardshell. Overall Very Good + Condition.